Letter: Lesson of the Dust Bowl

On Feb. 2nd, Maya Fischoff published a short and sensible letter sounding the alarm about man-made global warming. In the comments section Eugene Holmes responded as follows:

“Yes, and the dust bowl of the 1930s was the result of greenhouse gasses as well. Oh, wait, we didn’t have greenhouse gasses back then since the industrial age was in its infancy. Man does not cause climate change. Dishonest man however uses climate change to fleece money from people and governments. The climate changes on its own, always has and always will … playing to the gullable [sic] is all this is.”

Ironic that Mr. Holmes, in his brave foray into history, should mention the Dust Bowl, since this is the signal example from our nation’s past of the high cost of ignoring climate realities.

During WWI Russia was unable to get its wheat to international market. As a result, wheat prices skyrocketed. Americans saw that one could make a small fortune by growing wheat. What happened next is called by historians “The Great Plow Up:” Almost every square foot of available land on the Great Plains was plowed up and planted with wheat.

The problem with the Great Plow Up is that it destroyed the natural grasses of the Plains that had evolved to withstand periodic drought. When the drought came (inevitably), the grasses were not there to hold the soil. The soil went up into the air. Thus the Dust Bowl and the immense human suffering that came with it.

So the Dust Bowl shows the danger of allowing greed to blind one to natural realities. The same thing is happening today. The greed of fossil fuel industry executives (and the politicians they own) is blinding them to the reality of global warming — to the fact that the burning of fossil fuels is destroying life on earth as we know it. The human suffering that will result from this blindness will dwarf that of the Dust Bowl.

A little history is a dangerous thing, Eugene. Drink deep or taste not from Clio’s spring.

Dr. Kelly Anspaugh, Ada


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